Saturday, April 04, 2015

Henry Clutton - Architect - a tribute


 Towers and Spires

A tribute to Henry Clutton of Walworth Surrey 1819-1893 
You see them across England
From Merrivale to Bath,
From Quantock Lodge and Tavistock
And up at Warden Park.
The grandest country mansions
That dominate the view
Have chimneys, towers and porticos
That Clutton built anew.

Clutton was the architect
He gave his buildings style,
With bold imposing mullions
And rooves of slate and tile,
Turrets on the corners
Towers that smack of rank,
With a clock and quarters
To conceal the water tank.

At churches, quoin and cloister   
Henry hardly had a rival,
He single handedly achieved
A neo gothic revival.
Famous Little Gidding church   
Would long have been forgotten
And we’d not have the Eliot poem
Had it not been for Clutton.

Old Battle Abbey cloisters
Lay in ruins ’till it was planned
To have them all restored again
And then by Clutton’s hand,
And many are the churches
And many a gracious spire,
That were by his design erected
We still see and admire.

Henry Owen Clutton, my maternal great grand father was an architect of some distinction, whose life and work was the subject of a doctoral thesis by Penelope S. Hunting.  In "The Life and Work of Henry Clutton 1819 - 1893, Dr. Hunting explores the professional relationship with William Burges and their design for Lille Cathedral.  The study includes the nature and distribution of Roman Catholic Church building in the second half of the nineteeth century.  My grandfather converted to Catholicism at a crucial point in his career and undertook the designs for the erection  and restoration of country churches for the Dukes of Bedford.
Henry Owen Clutton
 At a time when new construction was keenly sought to include interior lavatories and bathrooms, elevated water tanks were concealed in towers and high rooves.  The sites where Henry Clutton's work may be seen are dotted all across England and the map below shows a number but certainly not all of them.  He had a bold style with strong horizontal lines commonly incorporated in the design.
Many country homes that were built or redesigned by Clutton are featured in another book by Dr Hunting, "Henry Clutton's country houses".   A third book "The Saint and his Disciple" by this same author, explores the relationship between Cardinal Newman and the Reverend  George Dudley Ryder, and features a lot about Henry Clutton.

Henry Clutton's published work of note is "The Domestic Architecture of Medieval France" rare copies are still to be found.

Henry Clutton's greatest achievements might be considered the founding of the Architectural Museum, which was later absorbed into the Victoria and Albert Museum, and certainly the winning design of "Foederis Arca" the Lille Cathedral design competition in1856. This established Clutton as a master and leader of the Early French phase of the neo-Gothic Revival.
Sadly this winning design was never allowed to be used by the French authorities because it was discovered that the architect was English (albeit descended from Norman stock accompanying William the Conqueror in 1066 - hence the crest of Chanticleer heading this post.)

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